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Mountains & Monasteries

Trip type: 
Cultural
Adventure level: 
4. Demanding
Max group size: 
12
Avg user rating: 
Awaiting reviews
Asia, China, Nepal, Tibet | 20 days
Trip code: 
CBST
What's included: 

Transport - Private Bus, Overnight sleeper train, Taxi

Accommodation - Hotel (7 nts), Guesthouse (6 nts), Overnight sleeper train (2 nts), Permanent tented camp (1 nt)

Meals - no meals included

Trip Highlights: 
Monasteries of Tibet
Everest Base Camp
Great Wall of China
The world's highest railway
see full itinerary >>
Holidays in Tibet
You'll follow an itinerary which has been researched and planned by our experts, saving you all the hassle of organising the trip. The itineraries are designed to minimise the time spent travelling and maximise the variety of experiences.
We often have multiple itineraries so please check to see which itinerary is suitable for you, by selecting the relevant tab.
Itinerary options
Unpublished
Itinery Map

2013 Itinerary

(Departures in 2013)
  • Day 1/2 - Fly to Beijing
  • Day 3/4 - Train to the Roof of the World
  • Day 5-9 - Lhasa (3650)
  • Day 10 - Samye (3600m)
  • Day 11 - Gyantse
  • Day 12/13 - Shigatse (3800m)
  • Day 14 - Sakya (4300m)
  • Day 15 - Everest National Park
  • Day 16 - Zhangmu (2250m)
  • Day 17 - Dhulikhel
  • Day 18 - Drive to Kathmandu
  • Day 19/20 - Fly home
Extensions and Extras: Extend your holiday and see more of the world. View additional tours for this trip »
Unpublished
Day
1/2

Fly to Beijing

An overnight flight takes you to Beijing. On arrival check into your hotel.

Day
3/4
Train to the Roof of the World

Train to the Roof of the World

Today you walk on the Great Wall of China (2 hours drive). Constructed to protect Chinese empires from the Barbarians of the north, this incredible peice of engineering is 6,000 km long, stretching west from Beijing. It is up to you how far you would like to walk today, the wall is quite steep in places for good footwear is needed. Return to Beijing.

Later travel by taxi to Beijing West railway station and board the train to Lhasa. The total journey time on the train is approx 45 hours.

You will be travelling on the highest railway in the world.  The journey takes you through Xi'an, Lanzhou and Xining then across the Qinghai Plateau before arriving in Lhasa. Enroute you will pass through incredibly remote and mountainous scenery, this railway track is an incredible feat of engineering.

Trains in China are a major way to travel for local people. This train is one of China's newest and best. You sleep in cabins of 6 with open plan, three tiered berths. Bedding is provided, bring your own sleeping sheet for extra comfort. Hot water is available for making drinks bring your own mug, spoon, knife and fork. Meals are available on board but you may wish to bring your own food supplies for the journey. 

Bathroom facilities are at the end of each carriage with toilets and washbasins. Bring your own toilet roll. Be prepared to expect that cleanliness may not be what you are used to. Anticbacterial hand wash and wet wipes are also advisable.  Sit back relax and enjoy the journey. Overnight sleeper train (2nts)

Day
5-9
Lhasa (3650)

Lhasa (3650)

The holy city of Lhasa is a mysterious place, it was once undiscovered and well protected from visitors by fierce warrior monks protecting their Tibetan territory. You will feel the effects of altitude here and are best advised to take things slowly for the first couple of days. Under Chinese law a Tibetan guide will also accompany us here, please be prepared that their English may not be so good. Your group leader remains with you also.

Lhasa is dominated by the imposing Potala Palace, which rises above the city on its rocky pedestal. Building of the palace started in the 7th century, but was not finished until the 17th century during the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama. The 13-storey Potala rises 117m and is made entirely of wood, stone and earth. It has over 1000 rooms and you will explore in depth those that are open to the public – some 15 or 16. 

Apart from visiting the palace, your time in Lhasa is spent exploring the sites in and around the city. A Tibetan language lesson, a cookery less to make Momos (steamed dumplings), and a visit to a centre which promotes help for the visually impaired Tibetans are also included.

You also visit the Jokhang, the religious and geographical centre of Lhasa, and the most important temple for all sects of Tibetan Buddhism. Pilgrims from across Tibet, many of whom have walked for many weeks to see the Jokhang once in their lives, queue for hours to enter the temple and perform a ritual circuit of its many sacred shrines. It is a moving experience to join them in the dark hallways lit only by butter lamps, filled with the sound of quiet chanting. The main image here is Jowo Rimpoche, a gilded statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, said to have been modelled in his lifetime. The Jokhang is encircled by the Barkhor, an 800m flagstone pathway that is both a sacred circumambulation route and the biggest bazaar in Tibet. Night and day, Tibetans walk clockwise around it, earning religious merit as they shop or chat with friends. Here you see people from all over Tibet; the striking, tall Khampa men from the east with large knives and red tassels wrapped about their heads; Golok women with their hair plaited in 108 tiny braids, and nomad families bundled in their sheepskins.

You will also visit Sera monastery, set on the outskirts of the city, dating back to the 15th century and once housing almost 10,000 monks. Like all Tibetan gompas, this is a treasure house of art, ritual and symbolism. In the afternoons at Sera, an outside courtyard becomes a place of colourful discussion, as monks’ debate Buddhist theory, which is part of their religious teaching. (Bx2)

A day trip takes you to Nam Tso Lake one of Tibet's most stunning natural sights, in sping the lake turns an amazing colour of turquoise. You will see nomadic camps and pilgrims trekking to Tashi Do Monastery. (please note October to April the road can be inaccessible due to snow, at other times this is anyway a long day due to mountain road conditions). Hotel 5 nights

Day
10
Samye (3600m)

Samye (3600m)

Today our overland journey from Lhasa to Kathmandu begins, as tourists we are not allowed to travel on public transport, nor travel by night, so will have a private vehicle to make our way. Our travel may be subject to delays from road and weather conditions, we will make comfort stops where possible.  The drive to Samya is approx 5 hours. Samye is home to one of the most enchanting monasteries of Tibet which marks the site where budhism was first established. As you explore you will learn more about the rituals and symbolism.

This afternoon a 30 minute climb to the top of Hepo Ri Hill will reward you with spectacular views of the area decorated with prayer flags fluttering in the breeze. We stay overnight in the guesthouse located within the monastery walls. Rooms are simple, bathrooms are shared and please be prepared for a possible lack of hot water and candlelight, it all adds to the adventure. Guesthouse 1 night

Day
11
Gyantse

Gyantse

A long drive today to the old trading town of Gyantse. The views from Kamba Pass (over 4700m) are spectacular looking down on Yamdrok Tso Lake with its turquoise waters. Driving along the lake shore we stop for lunch at Nangarse and then climb again viewing glaciers and mountain peaks. Arrive late afternoon, soak up the lively culture as pilgrims, animals, children and monks mingle together amid the sounds of pop music. Guesthouse - 1 night 

Day
12/13
Shigatse (3800m)

Shigatse (3800m)

Visit the great Kumbum Stupa (literally meaning 1000 pictures), its layers each represent a step towards enlightenment. Then onwards to Tibet's rapidly modernising, largest city (apporox 2 hours). We have two nights here to explore, including a visit to the Tashilhunp Monastery where we join the pilgrims for a prayer circuit (approx 1 hour walk) spinning prayer wheels and admiring the great views. Visit the Braille without Borders organic farm and head to the Shigatse bazaar where you can buy everything from Yak wool to prayer wheels, bargain hard to any purchases you wish to make. Guesthouse - 2 nights 

Day
14

Sakya (4300m)

The Friendship highway later brings us to the small town of Sakya (approx 4 hours drive). The monastery here is built in Mongolian style, with red and white striped wallks, it is often know as "The Great Wall of Tibet". Enjoy the unique atmosphere here. Basic Guesthouse - 1 night (usually no hot water)

Day
15
Everest National Park

Everest National Park

Today you continue along very poor roads to Rongbuk (8-9 hours away), home to a monastery which dates from the 18th century. Your journey here has been difficult, but Everest Base Camp is now within striking distance and makes the journey worthwhile. For those unable to make the arduous trek from the Nepalese side, Everest Base Camp remained, until today, an elusive goal and not much more than a dream. As the Chinese authorities have relaxed their tight hold on where foreigners can visit, the possibility of actually seeing Everest from up-close has become a reality. Views of the Himalayas from here are absolutely stunning; Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu and a band of smaller peaks line the horizon, with Shishapangma slightly to the north - a sight few will forget. We follow the prayer flags to reach Everest Base Camp (approx 2 hours return hike), hoping for clear skies with cameras at the ready. (Please note this hike may not be possible due to weather conditions). Overnight tented camp (summer) or monastery guesthouse (winter)– 1 night (basic shared bathroom facilities) 

Day
16
Zhangmu (2250m)

Zhangmu (2250m)

A possible second chance to reach Everest Base Camp this morning if you rise early. Then continue to Zhangmu on the border of China and Nepal. As the altitude decreases the humidity increases, the landscape changes dramatically from barren plateaus to green valleys. This is a difficult dry sometimes hamphered by fog and landslides. Guesthouse – 1 night

Day
17

Dhulikhel

This morning say farewell to our Tibetan guide and cross the border into Nepal. We take a lift across 8kms of no man's land and walk across Friendship Bridge. After passing Nepalese immigration meet our new vehicle and driver. Drive to Khulikel (3-4 hours) where we can relax. Overnight 1 night hotel

Day
18
Drive to Kathmandu

Drive to Kathmandu

Today you make your way to Kathmandu by bus. Much of the city is modern and filled with busy traffic, but venture into the backstreets and there is much to discover. Durbar Square houses the palace of the Kumari Devi - a living godess, Swatanbgybatg Stupa otherwise known as the monkey temple is teh cities most imporant Buddhist shrine.  Hotel - 1 night

Day
19/20

Fly home

The trip ends today. Those on group flights will transfer to the airport for your overnight flight home. 

lease note: Flexibility and patience are key words when travelling in Tibet. The location of night stops may vary in response to weather and road conditions. Tourism is still in its infancy in this wild, remote region and the Chinese authorities can, and do change arrangements and schedules without notice. Bear this in mind, and you’ll be rewarded with a unique insight into Tibet and its people.